Our Researchers

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Dr Xinjin Liang

Queen's University Belfast

Xinjin is a microbiologist with a research interest in metal and waste recovery using biological approaches. She joined the Bryden Centre in August 2020, as a research fellow at the Queen’s University Belfast, her project is mainly focus on developing a biorefinery system for waste recovery and enhancing the circular economy.

Xinjin obtained her PhD degree in Geomicrobiology from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee. Previously, she gained her Master of Research degree from the University of St Andrews in Environmental Biology. Before joining the Bryden Centre, she has work as a research fellow in the Sustainable Environment Research Centre at the University of South Wales on the Reduced Industrial Carbon Emissions (RICE) project, an EU-backed scheme to test and drive forward next generation technologies to help reduce carbon emissions from Welsh industry. As part of her project, she helped to set up large-scale demonstration systems with global steel manufacturer Tata Steel, as well as Welsh Water, to support the testing of technologies that can capture carbon dioxide and convert it into high-end products. Previously, she had work as a NERC-funded postdoctoral research assistant in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee, on the Tellurium and Selenium Cycling and Supply project (Part of the NERC Security of Supply of Mineral Resources project).

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Dr Dylan Furszyfer

Queen's University Belfast

Dylan is a research fellow at Queen’s University, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, working on fuel and transport poverty in Latin America and Northern Ireland.

 

Dylan holds an MSc in Environmental Technology from Imperial College London - Centre for Environmental Policy- and a PhD in Environmental Policy from the same institution, where he examined technology adoption and household energy behaviours. Prior to beginning his PhD, Dylan worked at CFE (the state provider of electricity in Mexico) where he collaborated in developing and conducting research for the sustainable development agenda. He also has experience working with French Development Agency (AFD).

 

Right after his BA in international relations, Dylan worked with the Association of Volunteers in the International Service (AVCI) to improve education systems in the poorest communities in the south of Mexico.

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Dr Joseph Onoufriou

University of the Highland and Islands

Joe is a marine ecologist interested in animal movement and spatial ecology, particularly focusing on environmental drivers of foraging behaviour. He joined the Bryden Centre as a University of Highlands and Islands Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in April 2020, primarily based out of the Scottish Association for Marine Sciences (SAMS) in Oban, Scotland. Joe also works closely with Bryden Centre affiliated staff and students at the Environmental Research Institute, Thurso, Scotland.

Using biologging technology to track the movement (both horizontal movement and diving behaviour) of marine predators, his research focuses on describing and quantifying how animals adjust their behaviour and distributions as a response to environmental and anthropogenic drivers. He is particularly interested in how energetic systems drive foraging behaviour as well as how the industrialisation of these habitats, through installation and operation of renewable energy developments, may affect these behaviours. The ultimate applied goal of this research is to provide renewable energy developers with a quantitative assessment of how to proceed in an ecologically sustainable manner.

 

As a Bryden Centre funded researcher, Joe intends to investigate the behavioural changes of harbour seals near a tidal turbine array in the Pentland Firth, Scotland. In light of results from his PhD which suggested that seals avoided these structures during operations, he will work with acousticians at SAMS to estimate acoustic exposure during these operational periods and provide the industry with further information as to the environmental impact of their devices.

Joe has a history of working with a wide range of researchers in Scotland including those within the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme, Marine Scotland Science and SMRU Consulting investigating questions related to animal mortality, interactions between seals and shipping, and the effects of renewable energy installations, and continues to focus on establishing collaborations to answer his research questions.

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Dr Valentina Gogulancea

Ulster University

Valentina is a chemical engineer with expertise in mathematical modelling for environmental applications, based at Ulster University, in the Centre for Sustainable Technologies. She holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from University Politehnica of Bucharest and has worked as a Research Associate on the EPSRC-funded Newcastle University Frontiers in Engineering Biology project.

As part of the Bryden centre, Valentina’s research is focused on the processing of under-utilised biomass and biomass wastes using thermo-, bio- and electro-chemical conversion technologies for energy generation. The main goal of her research project is to deliver a viable solution to the issue of biological waste disposal for farms, while also providing on-site heat and power co-generation.

Valentina’s work combines experimental and modelling approaches to evaluate the potential of several representative technologies (i.e. gasification, anaerobic digestion and electrolysis) and their coupling for optimal bio-energy production.

She is a member of the Environmental Biotechnology network as an early career researcher. In her free time, she enjoys a good murder mystery accompanied by a hearty cupper.

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Dr Pál Schmitt

Queen's University Belfast

Pál is a marine engineer with research interests in fluid and structural dynamics. He was appointed as a Bryden Centre Research Fellow in January 2020 and is based at the Queen’s University Belfast Marine Laboratory in Portaferry, NI.

 

Pál graduated from TU Hamburg with a Diploma in Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture and then joined QUB for his PhD which he completed in 2013.

He has gained industry experience working for companies across the offshore industry,  ranging from offshore contractors, a classification society and offshore energy device developers.

 

His academic research covers numerical and experimental design tools for marine renewable energy devices. During his PhD he developed a simulation environment based on OpenFOAM for the design of the Oyster wave power device. Since then he has continued work on OpenFOAM based simulations and expanded into tidal turbines and offshore wind but also developed novel tools for assessing the vibration of submerged bodies using CodeAster FEA and NEMOH BEM.

Beside simulations he is keen on experimental work, especially for the validation of numerical design tools, and has worked on wave tank and field testing campaigns using passive and active acoustic instruments and motion tracking.

 

Recently Pál participated in the Icure Lean Launch program and is now progressing commercialisation of his product idea, while developing his research idea on a novel numerical simulation approach for flexible structures like tidal or wind turbine blades.

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Dr. Raeanne Miller

University of Highland and Islands

Raeanne is a marine ecologist with expertise in marine invertebrate larvae and the environmental consequences of deploying man-made structures in the sea. She joined the Bryden Centre in September 2018, as a researcher at the University of the Highlands and Islands based at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban, Scotland.

Within the context of the Bryden Centre, she hopes to shed light on the organisms which grow on marine renewable energy infrastructure, to 1) understand the cues which attract larvae to marine renewable energy infrastructure, 2) enable prediction of biofouling pressure across a variety of marine environments, in order to 3) improve strategies for biofouling mitigation. More fundamentally, she seeks to understand the cues which influence the dispersal and settlement patterns of biofouling organisms and other marine invertebrates, including crustaceans, molluscs, and polychaete worms.

She is also experienced in knowledge exchange in both the marine renewable energy and climate science sectors.

She is a member of the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas Working Group on Marine Renewable Energy, and she is co-lead of the Ocean Systems Research Area at SAMS.

She also enjoys spending time running and mountain biking in the Scottish Highlands, and compete in off-road races and triathlons.

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Dr. Lilian Lieber

Queen's University Belfast

Lilian is a marine ecologist with a research interest in predator-prey interactions and underlying bio-physical mechanisms. She was appointed a Bryden Centre Research Fellow in Jan 2019. Lilian is mainly based at the Queen’s University Belfast Marine Laboratory in Portaferry, situated on the shores of the Narrows tidal channel, Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, UK.  

Using a range of active acoustic instruments (multibeam sonar, echosounders, ADCPs), her research focusses on the interactions of marine fauna (seals, fish, zooplankton) and hydrodynamics, particularly in the vicinity of offshore renewable energy devices. Her research aims to further our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the fine-scale distribution and behaviour of animals in highly energetic environments. In studying these interactions, this also aims to inform consenting decisions of offshore renewables. Working on the interface of ecology and oceanography, Lilian has also gained considerable experience engaging with developers, manufacturers and regulatory bodies.

Most recently, and in collaboration with Bangor University and the University of Plymouth, Lilian investigated the influence of wake structures (both natural and man-made wakes) on top predators using a combination of vantage point surveys, UAVs (drones) flights and mobile ADCP transects. 

As a research fellow funded by the recently completed EU Horizon 2020 Powerkite project, she was involved in studies relating to tidal device noise assessments and listening space reduction in marine mammals, collision risk modelling, the characterisation of highly energetic sites, and the investigation of fine-scale hydrodynamic features influencing top predator at-sea distributions.  

 

Lilian was a MASTS Prize PhD student and completed her doctorate at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.  She has had a long interest in sharks and worked towards developing hydroacoustic tools to visualise predators, their immediate habitat and underlying hydrodynamics. For instance, during her PhD, she used high-frequency multibeam sonar to detect basking sharks off the West Coast of Scotland.  Since then, her hands-on experience in active acoustic data collection has taken her further afield, e.g. the Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory; 2016), South Africa (Robben and Dassen Island; 2016) and Ningaloo Reef (Western Australia; 2018) as part of on-going collaborations with the University of St Andrews (Prof Andrew Brierley).

Dr. Narendran Kumar

Letterkenny Institute of Technology

Narendran is a mechanical engineer with specialization in hydrodynamics and marine renewable energy. He did his Masters in Engineering Design and completed Ph.D. in Ocean Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM). During his Ph.D. programme he developed a renewable energy converter called VORTEX-INDUCED VIBRATION ENERGY CONVERTER (VIVEC) which generates power from the marine water currents. He has interests in the field of fluid mechanics and flow visualization techniques.

His expertise also lays in the field of CFD and experimental methods and measurements. After his Ph.D. he was working as Research Fellow in National University of Singapore (NUS) for more than 2 years. There along with his team he was designing a novel offshore floating platform with effective flow control strategy.

Currently he is working in Bryden centre as postdoctoral researcher and his focus is on the Ocean renewable energy development plan for GB&I.

Dr. Chris McCallum

Letterkenny Institute of Technology

Chris is a chemical engineer who has research interests in renewable energy and sustainable production of chemicals.  He joined the Bryden Centre in February 2019 as a research fellow at LYIT Letterkenny campus.  Before arriving at LYIT he completed his undergraduate study in Chemical Engineering before undertaking an MPhil and PhD at Queen’s University Belfast under the supervision of Dr Gary Sheldrake and Prof David Rooney.

During his MPhil he investigated the catalytic processing of suberin rich biomass using precious metal catalysts for the production of fatty acids and aromatic compounds (Green Chemistry 2018. Doi 10.1039/C8GC00605A).  This project was scaled from a 100 mL reactor to a 1 L reactor as part of the Interreg IVB ReNew project (Resource Innovation Network for European Waste).

He then undertook his PhD focusing on induction heating as a method to convert electrical energy to thermal energy as an alternative method for heating chemical reactions.  Within this he looked at both organic and inorganic chemical reactions including fine chemical production.  He then worked as part of a CASE (Centre for Advanced and Sustainable Energy) project at QUB (Dr Kevin Morgan) on catalytic aftertreatment of natural gas and dual fuel powered vehicles.

During his time in the Bryden Centre he will focus on bioenergy production from both land and marine biomass through a variety of thermochemical techniques alongside extraction methods for valuable chemicals.  He hopes to be able to demonstrate a viable process which incorporates both chemical production alongside bioenergy production with an industrial partner at pilot scale before the conclusion of the Bryden Centre.

Outside of work Chris also works on sustainability through a company he started with other PhD students while at QUB, COVET CLR.  The aim of the company is to promote sustainable attitudes to SME businesses.

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